The term public virtual world is used to describe computer-based simulated environments created to enable the user communicate with the interactive virtual environment via use of an avatar which is a representation of his form in the virtual world environment. Using the avatar the user can be able to manipulate objects in the virtual world as they are capable of perceptual stimuli, he can also be able to interact with the objects and also manipulate them to his desire. Virtual public networks also serve as global networks for communication because they posses the ability to allow multiple users regardless of their geographical location in the world to be able to join and communicate with the online virtual society.
It is a representation of the user in the simulated environment contained in a virtual world. We can also refer to a avatar as a text based or graphical representation of the user in the virtual world. The users intended action are accomplished by the avatar, it may include creation of an object. The user may create an use more than a single avatar. The avatar resides and inhabits the virtual world. The avatar is able to explore his surroundings.
The realization of the virtual world has taken years in order to reach where it is at the moment. These technology I s already being used In some areas such as entertainment and for educational purposes.
What stage is the technology in? Second life which is an example of a virtual simulated environment has already been developed and is already in use. Since its inception on may 2007 and introduction to the online virtual community its user have continued to grow nearly doubling.
What are it currently being used for and the products?
It refers to multiplayer online role playing game which bare resembles to a virtual worlds in every sense but one of the differences that set it apart is that the user have to accomplish a certain task it may be building of houses or acquiring the highest points. this can be considered a fore runner to the virtual word. The user is restricted to assume a specific character in such games.
It offers businesses, companies and different organizations a way to use the resources harbored within the virtual worlds to collate and collect information for their own use.
It is also limiting the dependence to sponsors as all the needed tools are within the simulated environment.
It provides tools inside the virtual worlds which allow people to communicate and interact with other people be it for fun or as a way of sharing information and knowledge. Examples may include systems such second life, twinity, onverse, active worlds and small world.
Is being used help children suffering from terminal and painful diseases such as autism be able interact in an atmosphere void of this experiences and offering for the length of time the user is own a safer serene and comfortable environment.
The simulated environments help broaden their experiences and situations which without the simulated environments would not have been realized.
The user may be able to interact and socialize with other users forming friendships or even relationships which would otherwise have been impossible to foster without stigma and other obstacles.
As a result of the rising trend of the internet popularity coupled with the transaction in commercial activities such buying of certain products and also selling online which is referred to as e-commerce. This has made some business to try to adjust and gain accommodation in this new market or fall and lose their competitive edge.
Avails to the user the view the latest and innovative product contained in the virtual worlds.
Who is currently using this technology?
Older people and people who are physically handicapped
Help them to cope with social isolation and feelings of loneliness experienced in the real world.
Some user suffer from terminal diseases which render their locomotive ability useless making it hard for them to physically visit places of their liking the virtual world offered in the second life gives them a second chance to once again get the feeling of mobility enabling them to momentarily escape from this world and experience interaction just like the healthy counterparts
In the medical field
Doctors from the starlight children foundation use the second life virtual world to create an environment which is safe and offers comfort, this expands their experiences and interaction to assist children who are hospitalized and are suffering from diseases which are painful.
These children get to meet and interact with other user from all over the world, this is an achievement since they would not have been able to do so had it not been for the virtual world.
Those suffering from mental and emotional depravity can temporary get freed via the use of an avatar and may be able to participate in activities such as walking swimming, dancing and may also explore other activities
The young people
They use the simulated environment offered by second life to socialize and can easily be able to bond and form relationships and friendship being able to avoid stigma on account of their physical look.
Online companies and businesses
A new form of advertising is emerging where by the companies incorporate their wares and products in the virtual world. Their use the virtual world to promote buying of their products
Does it have the potential to became globally adopted or it will remain in a specific arena or part of the world
It is capable and it is getting integrated into the larger industry at good rate, this is because of its potential to enable users browse innovate wares from companies. It also offers the company an excellent way of being able to access different clients and get the demographic data of the customer.
What is the business impact of this technology to certain industries?
It offers great improvement due to its ability to support action spoken conversation in its environment increase the perceptual stimuli experienced by users. Its also offers its users the opportunity to engage in transaction which are profitable as linden dollars used in the virtual world can be converted to real dollars at a lower cost off course.
Marketing and research in businesses
Initially the business used to go to advertising firms in order to be aided in promotion of their products but the virtual world in second life the business may be able cut cost and time constraints by integrating into the simulated environment.
Virtual worlds offer the different companies and organization a medium through with they can gauge the reaction of their clientele and get feedback faster. The feedback is cruel as it will enable the creators to know the exact preference of their users in the course of developing a project.
This is an important tool as it gives companies an insight into want the customers prefer and what the market expects from them giving the company the much needed edge in today’s cut-throat businesses
Virtual world offer companies a centralized point for meeting which they can use with several other companies to engage in profitable activities.
Cost of implementing such a technology in your chosen industry
Acquisition of hardware the user-the user need to buy all the equipment that are relevant in ensuring communication in virtual world is achieved
Training on use- the corporate has to ensure that its clientele is well versed on the ways of interacting with the simulated environments as this my affect productivity
Investment on security- the operator my need to ensure that he has purchased relevant software so as to maintain security and prevent lose of privacy and confidentiality.
Integration with a virtual world provider-he should identify a simulated environment provider who is able to support his wants. This may be through subscription which may be payable as their contract agreement
What are the value add of such technology and its components to the industries you have created
Has it reduced the cost of doing business in your chosen industry?
It results to lower cost due to the removal of barriers in geographical locations enabling users to carry out business with companies based on different parts of the world.
It also results in an increase in sales and productivity in a company due to the large base of potential customers
Its offers customers a platform to seek assistance promote a new product or simply interact and exchange ideas.
What opportunity (larger marker share) or threats (regulators, competitors, environmental impact) does this technology provide in my chosen industry?
Enhancement of branding and advertisement-virtual worlds ensures faster and broader promotion on the targeted potential clients.
Enabling quicker research in market and testing of product- tools contained in the virtual world can reduce time taken to carry out a research on a large pool of data
Ease of learning and training in corporate- corporate may get a reduction in cost as virtual worlds offer a much easier way and less costly in communicating with employees who may be in different geographical locations.
Better spotting and recruitment of talent- as a results of being able to attract a large group of users the chances of spotting talents is greatly improved
Aiding in collaboration of various organizations- different organizations can be able to interact communicate and pool their resources together as they try realize increased profit margins and better utilization of resources.
Limitation as a result of use of virtual world technology in business and social simulated environment models
The integration of a company in a virtual world requires investing in the maintenance of the platform this is because the platform may require improvement or modification from time to time In order to improve customer experience or add new functionality, all this is at the cost of the company
Since the law that govern intellectual or virtual property are at its infancy as virtual world is an emerging technology, it would it would live the company exposed to lose through stealing and the company would find it hard to sues the criminals as the rules are not clearly discernable.
Meeting in virtual worlds
As user in the virtual world exist under a cloak of anonymity a user act as he or she pleases this may pose a problem to other user as may be exposed to material which holds contents of a lewd nature. other users may decide to engage in acts of vandalism, theft of intellectual property or even fraud.
Risk posed to marketing in the said simulated environments
As a result of virtual worlds ability to offer the capability to generate coverage of media which may be mainstream the user base may continue to reduce as more and more virtual world platforms emerge. It is also difficult for markers to have any information on the group they choose to focus their research or test heir products on.
What are the risk such technology poses to the market
As the popularity of gaming continues on the upward trend so will the rise in threats and attacks dealt to the users, this is as a result of the cybercriminals will to exploit the trusted simulated environments to carry out illegal activities such as money laundering. Also many of the online gaming environments are able to support their user to transact money transactions using credit card as methods of purchasing and exchanging of virtual credits with their fellow players this attracts the criminals leaving them vulnerable to organized crime.
.Threats involved in the virtual world include
Masking or anonymity identity
As the user is not restricted to the number of avatars he can create it becomes impossible to be able to ascertain the true identity of an avatar. Virtual worlds can hold fake users that may be able to communicate and interact with real users and if their posses techniques such as social engineering they may be able to obtain from the unsuspecting users items of value in the simulated environment, this may prove disastrous considering the amount of time the user may have spent to develop or acquire the objects.
It involves attempt to get hold of consumer information which is of a highly sensitive nature by use of fraudulent means. Phisers projecting themselves as genuine and trustworthy users while engaging in an electronic communication (Hillis, 22). They appear in both the in-world as well as the out-world they use communication avenues such as instant messaging or chat where they lead the user to provide account details at another website that appears legitimate but may hide malware that stealthily captures this information. Once a users account has been compromised in this way the criminal goes forward to empty it or use its information for payment on purchases conducted.
Users may without their knowledge become party to money laundering .avatars being able to trade in goods and currencies inside the simulated environments and then be able to sell them to real markets outside the virtual world; tracing of the crime becomes hard.
In some of the simulated environments games the users my fall prey to lose of his virtual assets which are important as they can be exchanged or bought in the real world. Theft can exits in various forms but the common ones are theft for conversion to cash in real world or theft of virtual asset which is used in the simulated environment. Most organized cyber criminal are interested in the former as a result of the lack of regulation in virtual currencies and objects. It is therefore unclear of the real legal implications posed.
Share ability as a result of open code
In order to allow users and third-party developers to be party to the creation and modification of elements contained in the virtual worlds, some of the simulated environments programming languages are susceptible to hacking. Users should periodically check for warnings about discovery of new hazards and misuse.
What new skill set or management approach will be needed in this technology
The time factor
The lecturer must have of the different time zones coz when you schedule a virtual class for participants of diverse country origin. You must confirm the time it is in their location and not the time in your location.
The language barrier
It can result into dire problems during the virtual lecture meeting. the facilitator can decide to have human interpreters although this could prove costly. He can also choose to have virtual class software embedded with an interpreter that is built in.
Some students may come form extremely remote locations of the world that lack the adequate technology for them to actively participate in the in the virtual classroom simulated environment. In some cases the student would have to travel long distance just to gain access to a computer to enable him join the meeting
Use of virtual public worlds has greatly been used in the research.
It has provided a new way for business and some governments to be able to use its resources to gather and collect information for their use
Second Life: an overview of the potential of 3-D virtual worlds in medical and health education, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00733.x/full
Hillis, Ken. Online A Lot Of The Time. Durham: Duke University Press,2009